Tiger-Cats dominate 2nd half to down Edmonton Elks

EDMONTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats scored 24 unanswered points between the second and third quarter in the eventual 37-29 win over the Edmonton Elks at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday.

Hamilton’s offence came alive late in the first half to dominate a Green and Gold team still searching for their first home win since Oct. 12, 2019.

Quarterback Matthew Shiltz scored a rushing touchdown and pushed the ball down the field to wide receivers Tim White and Tyreik McAllister before leaving the game with an injury late in the third quarter. Backup Taylor Powell filled in for Shiltz and connected on a 17-yard touchdown pass to White on his first possession of the game.

Running back James Butler showed off his explosiveness in both the ground and passing game while also adding a rushing major in the second consecutive winning effort for the 2-3 ‘Cats.

Kicker Marc Liegghio was a perfect three-of-three for the visitors.

Elks’ quarterback Taylor Cornelius had a 54-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kyran Moore, but also threw two interceptions, including a pick six to defensive back Stavros Katsantonis, and ended up being pulled for Jarret Doege in the second half. The backup led the Elks to a couple of scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr.

Running back Kevin Brown added a major of his own as Double E dropped to 0-6.

Edmonton ball carrier getting taken down Photo: GoElks.com

After a back-and-forth first half, the Tabbies dominated the final two quarters of what was the 100th matchup between the two teams.

The Elks started with great field position after Tyler Ternowski muffed a short opening kickoff and Jordan Reaves jumped on it. Starting across midfield, Edmonton put together a scoring drive with both running backs getting involved. First it was Brown, then Shannon Brooks getting carries out of the backfield. Cornelius also added a first down of his own on the ground, but ultimately they had to settle for a field goal as rookie Dean Faithfull made it 3-0 for the home team.

That was the only scoring of the quarter as both teams traded punts a few times in the first 15 minutes. A promising march by the ‘Cats in the second quarter saw Shiltz overcome second-and-long twice after a couple of sacks, but ultimately having to kick the ball back to the Green and Gold once more.

Cornelius and the offence finally broke the stalemate halfway through the second quarter with another scoring drive. Edmonton’s pivot connected with four different players to move the ball all the way to Hamilton’s 26-yard line. A sack by defensive lineman Ted Laurent on second down forced the home team to go for their second field goal attempt and extend the lead to 6-0.

The best play of the first half came with 2:56 to go as Shiltz found White behind Edmonton’s defence for 54 yards to set up first-and-goal from the eight-yard line. From there it was just a matter of handing it off to Butler and watch him break a few tackles for his first touchdown of the season and first of the game, 7-6.

It seemed like Cornelius and the Double E would retake the lead late in the first half after putting together a long drive of their own. A pass interference call – after a challenge by head coach Chris Jones – on a Cornelius pass for Dunbar Jr. set them up across midfield. The following play had Brown finding a hole and rushing for 49 yards all the way to Hamilton’s 10. Two plays later Edmonton’s pivot was looking for No. 7 once more but after the receiver tipped the ball the other No. 7 – defensive back Javien Elliott – scooped it up and kept his team ahead.

Butler then kickstarted the following march with a long run of his own, gaining 37 yards and adding to the visitors’ momentum late in the second quarter. No. 9 added a few more yards to get it close enough for kicker Liegghio to extend the lead to 10-6 heading into halftime.

Double E opened the second half with a bang. Cornelius found Dunbar Jr. over the middle for 18-yards before threading the needle to Moore for 54 yards and the major, retaking a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter.

McAllister answered with a big play of his own, going for a 46-yard return and setting the Tabbies up across midfield for their first drive of the half. A pass-interference penalty then gave the visitors first-and-10 from Edmonton’s 13-yard line and Butler took it upon himself to make it first-and-goal from the three. Shiltz capped it off with a run through the middle to push the ‘Cats over the Elks once more, 17-13.

The following drive had Cornelius desperately trying to escape a sack and throwing the ball away, but it landed right on Katsantonis’ hand for an easy pick-six that pushed the lead to 24-13.

Hamilton extended their lead with Liegghio’s second field goal of the game that made it 17 unanswered points for the visitors.

Shiltz went down with 1:44 to go in the third quarter after a hit by defensive lineman Sam Acheampong and Powell came in to finish a scoring drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass to White that pushed the lead to 34-13.

Doege came into the game in place of Cornelius on the next drive and connected with Mitchell deep down the right sideline for a big gain. He then connected with Dunbar on a comeback route just shy of the end zone before Brown punched it in to cut the lead to 34-19 with 11:41 to go in the fourth quarter.

Liegghio made it a three-possession game again with a 22-yard field goal with 7:44 left on the clock.

Doege connected with Dunbar Jr. in the end zone with under a minute to go and Faithfull added another late field goal after an onside kick for the final score of the game.

The Elks go on the road for Week 7 as they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Blue Bombers on Thursday, July 20. The Ticats meanwhile return home to host the Toronto Argonauts on Friday, July 21.

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